SPECIAL REPORT: 'Alternative' day care offered in Northampton cannot cater for our parents

Stephanie De Vally and her father Edward Groves at the Drayton Centre. Mr Groves has been deemed unsuitable for the alternative being offered at Turn Furlong.
Stephanie De Vally and her father Edward Groves at the Drayton Centre. Mr Groves has been deemed unsuitable for the alternative being offered at Turn Furlong.

Relatives of dementia patients whose day care funding plug has been pulled say they will scrimp to pay for the activity sessions themselves – rather than send their loved ones to the alternative being offered.

On April 30, the county council will withdraw the contract that allows state-funders with the dementia or Alzheimer's to visit the Olympus Care-run Drayton Centre in Kingsthorpe for free.

The Drayton Centre.

The Drayton Centre.

Instead, the families are being offered the chance to send their loved-ones to nearby Turn Furlong in Rookery Lane, run by Shaw Healthcare.

But this week the Chronicle & Echo has learned that Turn Furlong only caters for mild to moderate dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, meaning many of the higher needs Drayton Centre attendees will not even be eligible to make the switch.

A group of those affected now say they would rather keep loved ones at the Drayton Centre, even though they will have to pay for it themselves out of personal care budgets.

Nova Keown, 75 of Kingsley, has been carer for her pal Brian, 77, for two years.

But even though she is a pensioner herself, she believes his needs are just too high for Turn Furlong.

“I just don’t think they have got the facilities for him at Turn Furlong,” she said.

“Drayton Centre is almost like a school. It really is excellent.”

Rachela Amalfitano, whose 83-year-old mother has been at the Drayton Centre for nearly three years, said Turn Furlong will not provide the right environment. “We didn’t think they had the right training,” she added. “I didn’t see any evidence they could cope with my mother’s condition.”

The three women feel they were sold Turn Furlong as a like-for-like replacement to the Drayton Centre during the consultation phase, but Rachella said: “It simply isn’t.”

Shaw Healthcare refused to answer what its policy on day centre admissions was and refused to say how many people had been turned away from Turn Furlong for having too high needs.

A spokeswoman for Shaw said: “All of our care services are designed to cater for groups of people with specific care requirements as per our contract. This involves consideration of correct staffing levels with relevant training to ensure a good quality and safe standard of care for our service users. We advise speaking to the council’s care team for an assessment.”

Though Northamptonshire County Council rubber stamped its decision to cut Drayton Centre funding in February - campaigners against the move believe there is still a chance the authority could perform a policy u-turn.

Abington police control room worker Stephanie De Vally, 50, whose dad Edward was refused respite care at Turn Furlong because his dementia was too severe, said: “I want them to keep the contract and keep people going there.”

Paul Crofts, of the Save Northants Services campaign group, fears the Drayton Centre may close altogether if its numbers drop further.

A county council spokeswoman said: “Drayton Centre and Stephenson’s Court (in Daventry) is not delivering value for money, they are under-used and they are not open seven days a week like other centres in the county.

“We are continuing to work closely with the service users affected, as well as their families and carers, to provide alternative day centre services through Shaw Healthcare, including Turn Furlong, subject to our normal care assessment process to ensure people’s needs can be met.”